Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – When the green flag falls on the 47th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® at Stafford Speedway on April 28-29, one of the busiest drivers in the paddock area will be Ellington native Ronnie Williams. Williams will be splitting his weekend between the #50 SK Modified® team owned by the Skowyra family and the #21 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owned by the Bertuccio family.
Williams kicked off his 2018 season with a trip to New Smyrna Speedway in February for the World Series of Asphalt Racing with the Bertuccio crew to get a head start on their 2018 Whelen Modified Tour duties. Although the team met with some mechanical gremlins during their week in Florida, Williams is excited about his prospects of recording a top-10 finish at his hometrack, Stafford Speedway, in the 200-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
“Between New Smyrna and the start of the Tour season, I already have 8 races under my belt this, so I’m excited about the Spring Sizzler,” said Williams. “We had some good speed at New Smyrna, we just didn’t get the finishes we wanted with some mechanical issues. I’m happy that we worked out some issues down in Florida rather than at Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach didn’t work out like we hoped it would so we’ll go to Thompson in search of a top-10 and then to Stafford and hope for another top-10 finish. There’s nothing better than coming to Stafford, my home track for Spring Sizzler Weekend and racing two different cars. The Spring Sizzler is definitely a race that I’m looking forward to.”
For the 2018 season, Whelen Modified Tour teams will only be allowed to change one tire per pit stop with a maximum of three crew members over the wall for each stop. The new pit stop rules opens things up for drivers and crew chiefs to plan some new strategy options versus past seasons.
“I think that strategy definitely helped play a role at Myrtle Beach so hopefully we’ll have the best strategy and things will work out in our favor,” said Williams. “First things first you have to qualify well and if you’re up front you can do what the leaders do but if you’re in the back, maybe you can do something differently to help get some track position.”
In addition to the #21 ride on the Whelen Modified Tour, Williams will also be busy behind the wheel of the #50 SK Modified® that was driven to 4 wins and a second place finish in the points standings last season by Chase Dowling. With Williams coming off a career best third place finish in the SK Modified® standings, he is eager to improve his points position and add to his career SK Modified® win total, which currently stands at 8 wins, in his 5th year of SK Modified® racing.
“Knowing the quality of the car and the Skowyra team, I’m really looking forward to the season,” said Williams. “They had 4 wins last year and you always want to do better than the last person who drove the car. I know what it takes to win and I know the guys we’re racing so we’re just going to go out there and do our thing. The car will be set up well and I’m looking forward to getting some wins this season. The guys told me if I win then I get a steak dinner so I’d like to get a couple of free dinners this year. The equipment they have is all the best of the best and their team is unbelievable so everything falls into my hands. If I can’t get it done then there’s a problem with me.”
One race that Williams has a big circle around on his 2018 calendar is the 5th Annual NAPA SK 5k on June 29. Williams likes the longer distance races and his numbers in the previous four SK 5k events reflect that. After a disappointing 23rd place finish in the inaugural SK 5k in 2014, Williams has placed 3rd, 4th, and 6th last season. With Williams taking over the car that won the NAPA SK 5k last season, he has an extra level of excitement for the extra distance extravaganza this season.
“The NAPA SK 5k is a race that you always circle on your calendar for sure,” said Williams. “We’ve been pretty close to winning that race in the past. Last year the #50 team won that race with Chase [Dowling] so I’m definitely looking forward to that race but the plan is to take things one race at a time.”
The 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® takes the green flag April 27-29. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. Tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Discount Tickets are now available at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores. For a full list of the 72 participating locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, please call the speedway office or point your web browser to www.staffordmotorspeedway.com/participating-napa-auto-parts-stores.